The Novels in You

Ever wonder how many novels you have in you? Sometimes I’m sitting on the subway, watching the stations pass and hoping I get to work on time, and a novel I’d forgotten I wanted to write bubbles up and buzzes around my ears, trying to get my attention. A new title will come, a new plot twist. A character’s name will emerge. An image that belongs to that unwritten novel and that unwritten novel alone is clear as day on the subway bench across from me and I’m almost reluctant to leave the train, for fear I’ll walk up the stairs and hit the surface streets and forget it forever.

You can write it down, but it’s not the same as seeing it in full-focus, in that moment. It’s an immediacy that I have a hard time finding my way back to.

How many unwritten novels are in me at the moment? I’m counting… OMG (yes, this deserves an OMG), I’ve got nine.

Statistics: They’re spread out over the ages—four are probably upper YA, though two of those could be crossover, two are tween/middle-grade, and three desperately want to be taken seriously as literary fiction. They’re focused in place: three take place in New York City, though in different time periods, and all the rest are scattered throughout the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, where I’m from. All are about women or girls. Not all are in first-person, though most might be. They all have arguments in their favor. They’re fighting one another right now, to see who’s up next.

It’s dangerous, to think of a future novel when your present novel is not yet done. Later, I tell the future novels, please wait for later.

So how many unwritten novels do you have swimming around in you today?

12 thoughts on “The Novels in You

  1. strugglingwriter September 23, 2008 / 9:14 am

    Nova, I’m hoping I have at least one in me. 🙂

  2. Annika September 23, 2008 / 10:31 am

    2.5 at the moment (the half is a novella if I’m lucky).

  3. e September 23, 2008 / 11:28 am

    i can’t wait to read them all!

  4. charlotteotter September 23, 2008 / 11:59 am

    I have one in my head also competing for attention with the present one.

    Have been lurking here recently, Nova, but I just wanted to say I’m watching your progress with MUCH interest and I wish you so much luck.

  5. bloglily September 23, 2008 / 2:54 pm

    Three. It’s funny, but they don’t compete. They wait their turn — they know I take a long time to get to things, but when I do, they’ll have my undivided attention. Totally different from my three children, by the way.

  6. Justin September 23, 2008 / 6:39 pm

    I’ve got somewhere between 7-10 in me, possibly a few more.

  7. courtney September 23, 2008 / 10:23 pm

    It’s dangerous, to think of a future novel when your present novel is not yet done. Later, I tell the future novels, please wait for later.


    2 over here. 🙂

  8. nova September 24, 2008 / 7:29 am


    Seeing others’ responses, I am beginning to be concerned about the number of novels in me! Too many?

    Some I’ve been carrying around for years. They’ll just have to be patient.

  9. Joseph September 24, 2008 / 9:45 am

    I always have about four novels on deck, two that I really want to do and two that I think would be interesting but challenging, like historical fiction. But as long as I always have a work in progress, then I’m a happy camper.

  10. lalber September 26, 2008 / 2:27 pm

    I’ve got all of two inside me, and they’re so vague I don’t know whether they’re really ideas or not. Frankly, I admire people with lots of ideas.

  11. weltschmerz September 27, 2008 / 2:45 pm

    Like lalber said, I’m not sure if the ideas I have in me are novels or not. Maybe they’re stories, or maybe just nothing. I know they’re not poems. Poems come out right away for me.

    I am beginning to wonder if I should try and write novels anyway.

  12. Helen October 14, 2008 / 6:17 am

    Seven, the last time I counted, but that is only the beginning, and all YA, I’m still wondering if I’ll ever get an adult novel out of me and think probably I will. Hah, except I got another rejection last week which I’ve been too scared to blog about but will soon…!!

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